Posts Tagged ‘papavers’

High pressure has settled over the land for a few days and we are basking in the sunshine. My time is still taken up predominantly with the first wave of cutting back in the herbaceous borders. It feels like the interlude of some great battle and we have been sent out to gather the fallen casualties. There is no time for tears though, the battle is about to recommence with the big guns, the day-lilies and delphiniums, waiting and ready to burst into action.

There are still some papavers to be cut down. Papaver ‘patty’s plum’ that grows at the base of a young weigela ‘bristol ruby’, encircled by heuchera ‘obsidian’ are still in flower and perhaps we can squeeze one more drop of glory from them but they are very much battered from the previous rains. The crimson-scarlet papaver ‘beauty of livermere’ that grows dramatically silhouetted against the silver eleagnus are definitely past their prime. The seed pods can be flipped off quite easily and gathered into a bucket and make fine table decorations in a primordial sort of way. The remaining foliage is cut down and composted, wearing gloves to protect the skin from the irritation of the fine hairs of the stem.

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Cornflowers or centaurea seem to wander around the garden, snuckling down amongst the geraniums and popping up in the early spring with their blue flower or the occasional white, and welcome they are whilst they are young and nomadic but if they settle for more than a year then they grow too big and collapse into an undignified heap after flowering, leaving an awkward gap, and then I prefer to dig them up and do away with them.

Whilst wandering down the border, I look once more at the small clump of inula with their bright golden yellow flower-heads that seem somewhat incongruous amongst the english pastels and I remain undecided whether they should be dug up and moved to another part of the garden or dug up and moved to someone else’s garden. Indecision and laziness being the perfect partners, the inula gets a reprieve for the moment.

Two pyracantha grow as buttresses against the south face of the house, a clematis montana nonchalantly straddles a fence and a honeysuckle climbs gracefully over a wooden archway. All three are in full flower and have sent up their usual growth stems, quite unneeded as they have already filled their allotted space so the growth stems are cut back flush to the mother plant.


England is agog with excitement. The ancient monument of Stonehenge is just a few miles down the road from here. It has been a few years since I draped myself in blankets and stayed up all night with the pagans and tourists to watch the sunrise on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which is normally a cloudy affair anyway. According to the grapevine, this year has been exceptional and they were blessed with clear skies and a perfect sunrise to the sound of a warbling flute which is probably a portent for something but I know not what.

Worthy Farm in the sleepy village of Pilton is transformed this week into Glastonbury, the largest pop festival in Europe. Funny looking vans with even funnier looking people at the wheel have been seen driving down the country lanes around here. I have sweet memories of wading through a musical mud swamp in torrential rain but this year it looks like a sun-drenched festival although it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without at least one thunderous downpour.

salvia osterland

Team England march triumphantly into the next round of the World Cup, oh, and our cousins from across the pond did quite well too…

Charlie and Bones, stripped down to the waist, adorned with straw hats and smothered in suntan oil, are both driving the tractors on the periphery of the estate. I would include a photograph but I can assure you that it is not a pretty sight….

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On Monday morning the garden is wet from overnight rain but soon the sun comes to dry everything out and the day is spent cutting back some of the plants in the herbaceous borders.

The papavers that have been so daring and dramatic in the beds are now coming to the end of their brief sojourn and look clumsy and bedraggled by the overnight rains. With a sorry heart they are cut down to the ground but new fresh leaf will soon grow back with the occasional promise of a late second flowering.

A fledgling wren passes by at nose height on his first aeronautical excursion. Despite furiously beating his tiny wings he is travelling no faster than slow-motion but eventually lands on a hazel branch and looks around hoping his proud mum and dad were watching…

geum bradshaw geum mrs bradshaw

The lupins look as gorgeous as ever but as the stems finish flowering and begin to set seed they are promptly cut out lest they mar the appearance. Eventually the whole plant will be cut down and will hopefully flower again later. Several of the hardy geraniums have enthusiastically spread themselves over the edge of the border and will damage the lawn underneath if they are allowed to remain so they are discretely clipped back.

The ceanothus that grows in the corner surrounded by the semi-circle of rosa rugosa ‘double de coubert’ looked as dead as the proverbial dodo after the travails of last winter but walking past this morning I noticed that it has sprung back to life albeit with a fair amount of dead wood within it. I must admit that this shrub was due to be chopped out any day now but this just goes to prove the old countryman’s adage that all good things come to those who put off until tomorrow what one needs to do today!

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Wednesday finds me visiting another garden open to the public. An herbaceous border spreads out before me, some three yards wide and twenty yards in length. The curved end nearest me is dominated by a young and handsome cotinus coggygria ‘royal purple’ emerging from a semi-circle of geranium ‘magnificum’ leading to a group of nepeta ‘six hills giant’ followed by knautia ‘macedonica’.

Already my eye is being enticed to follow the river of colours that will lead me through the pale yellows and pinks to much richer colours that lie beyond. This simple and well-used design is a delight; the gardener has clearly put much thought into his, or her, planting, this is more than just a collection of plants that go well together but rather a design that leads one somewhere, the gardener has a story to tell and this is a journey that I am happy to embark upon.

Quite exhausted, I head for a park bench and promptly fall asleep in the mid-day sun. I awake with a start some time later and have that horrible nagging feeling that I may have been snoring whilst asleep. Heaven forbid that a coach load of tourists, armed to the teeth with cameras and camcorders, should have passed by. I furtively look around but mercifully everyone else in the garden seems far more interested in admiring the roses than sniggering at some snoring fool so I may possibly have just gotten away with it…

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